Not only is divorce an emotionally difficult process for couples, but also for their children. In fact, one of the most challenging steps of divorce is telling your children that their parents are no longer going to be living together. They may be confused or may blame themselves for the divorce.
Having a good, productive discussion with your children can help make divorce easier for them. In many cases, the ages of your children will dictate how you consider approaching this conversation. With that in mind, here are some things to remember when talking with your kids about your impending divorce.
Toddlers and preschool-aged children
When dealing with very young children, it is important to be as simple and straightforward with them as possible. Let them know that their mom and dad will no longer be in the same house together, and be ready to tell them where they will live and who will look after them.
Toddlers and preschool-aged children will likely have questions. Try to provide short, simple answers that will help them begin to emotionally process this news.
Children in elementary school
Children in elementary school are likely to show more anxiety and distress than their younger counterparts. There is also a higher likelihood that they will blame themselves for the divorce. They may believe that if they had behaved better, the divorce would not be happening.
Let them know that the divorce is not their fault. Work with your spouse to ensure your children will have a regular routine during and after the divorce. It can also be beneficial to talk with them about how they are feeling.
Children in junior high school and teenagers
Children who are around the ages of 12-14 are more equipped to understand the reality of divorce proceedings. Because of this, they are often able to become more involved in the conversation, and they may even have several questions for you. Spend time preparing for this conversation with your spouse to ensure that you both provide consistent messaging.
It is also more common for children of this age to become angry with you and your spouse. Continuing to provide regular communication can help defuse tensions and help them feel like they are involved. By keeping in close contact with your children throughout the divorce, you are helping to show them that you care about them and their wellbeing.